Naturist Action Committee
COMMENTS OF THE NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE ON PROPOSED ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF HUNTINGTON BEACH AMENDING THE HUNTINGTON BEACH MUNICIPAL CODE BY REPEALING CHAPTER 9.36 RELATING TO INDECENT EXPOSURE AND ADDING CHAPTER 9.37 PERTAINING TO PUBLIC NUDITY
The Naturist Action Committee is a national organization dedicated to the acceptance of the human body as natural and wholesome through the promotion and defense of family-oriented nudity and nude recreation. The Naturist Action Committee believes, and several studies1 show, that non-sexual, family-oriented nudity and nude recreation result in the development of positive self-image, a high level of self-confidence, greater propensity for ethical and law-abiding behavior, and other direct positive effects.
The ordinance as proposed would impinge in several respects on Naturists' free exercise and enjoyment of their values and their philosophy of life, their constitutional right to transmit their values to their children, and their constitutionally-protected rights to associate with other like-minded individuals and to advocate their beliefs to others. That portion of the ordinance prohibiting the exposure of the female breast would violate the equal protection clause of the 5th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution by requiring females to cover their breasts while permitting males to engage freely in similar conduct.
The proposed Findings relating to secondary effects of public nudity set forth in the proposed ordinance are both inapposite and erroneous in the following respects:
First, the conclusion that "[r]ioting has occurred after females exposed their breasts before a crowd in the Pier area…" creates the impression that public nudity necessarily results in civil disorder, when nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, nude recreation occurs regularly on public lands throughout California without any rioting or disorderly behavior. Long-established nude beaches exist at San Onofre State Beach near San Clemente, Torrey Pines State Beach in San Diego, Baker Beach in San Francisco, Gray Whale Cove near San Mateo, and Pirate's Cove near San Luis Obispo, to name only a few locations, without riots, violence or lewd behavior. The key lies in managing nude recreation on public lands by designation of appropriate locations and through use of signage, not through outright prohibition.
Second, the findings indicate that a prohibition of all public nudity is necessary to prevent "public fornication and lewd acts". However, lewd and lascivious behavior in public, including nudity for the purpose of sexual gratification, is already prohibited by Section 318.5 of the California Penal Code. Additional legislation to deal with such conduct is both unnecessary and an overbroad exercise of the police power.
Finally, the City Council deems a ban of all public nudity necessary because certain random acts in particular circumstances may have resulted in a degree of civil disorder. Such reasoning, however, would mandate that football be banned because fans tend to engage in impromptu victory celebrations which result in rioting and vandalism, that shopping centers be closed because they serve as magnets for drug dealers, or that the Boy Scouts be banned because a few scoutmasters turn out to be child molesters. Yet no one would seriously advocate banning these activities, because laws already exist to deal adequately with the evils that occasionally arise from their exercise.
One of the most fundamental rights protected under the United States Constitution is that of parents, including Naturist parents, to pass their cherished values on to their children.2 Moreover, Naturists are as entitled as any other group to assemble in places open to the public and to advocate their beliefs. By prohibiting all public nudity, the proposed ordinance directly impinges on those rights, ignoring the numerous reputable studies which show that non-sexual, family-oriented nudity has demonstrable positive effects on the parent-child relationship and on the self-image and behavior of children exposed to it. Thus, the assertion in the Findings that "the City Council does not intend to suppress or infringe upon any expressive activities protected by the First Amendment of the United States…Constitution" is unsustainable, as the proposed ordinance clearly does suppress and infringe upon the constitutionally protected activities of Naturists.
The Findings state that the proposed ordinance purports to "enact reasonable time, place and manner regulations that address the adverse secondary effects of sex-oriented businesses." An outright prohibition of all public nudity, however, can in no way be viewed as a "reasonable time, place and manner regulation." In fact, there is no evidence that the City has ever implemented any scheme which purports reasonably to regulate the time, manner and place of non-sexual public nudity.
The Findings purport to recognize "the possible harmful effects on children and minors exposed to public nudity and to the effects of sex-oriented businesses" (emphasis added). In doing so, the Findings erroneously create a direct association between all public nudity, including family-oriented nude activities, and "sex-oriented business". Such an association, which ignores studies which clearly show the contrary, is not only unjustified and untenable, but works incalculable and irreparable harm on the self-image and public image of Naturists and their children and on the philosophy and values of Naturism.
The Findings further claim that "locational criteria alone do not adequately protect the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Huntington Beach," yet there is no evidence that any attempt has ever been made by the City to set aside areas for nude recreation and to measure whether such areas do or do not "adequately protect the health, safety and general welfare." In fact, it is abundantly clear that the proposed ordinance affirmatively harms the health, safety and welfare of Naturist citizens of Huntington Beach.
For the reasons stated above, the Naturist Action Committee respectfully proposes that the City Council modify the proposed ordinance by:
August 7, 2000 August 7, 2000